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ECHA to consider PFAS impacts this year

FINLAND: European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) evaluations of the impact of fluorinated HFC/HFO refrigerants under proposed new European PFAS restrictions are expected to take place in November/December.

The ECHA’s committees for risk assessment (RAC) and for socio-economic analysis (SEAC) have provisionally concluded restriction assessments on four sectors – consumer mixtures, cosmetics, ski wax, metal plating and manufacture of metal products . 

Considerations on the impact of the applications of fluorinated gases will be next in line after the September meetings on textiles, upholstery, leather, apparel, carpets, food contact materials and packaging and petroleum and mining. These fluorinated gas plenary meetings are scheduled to take place in November/December, along with considerations of transport and construction products

Background

In January last year, five countries – Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden – submitted a proposal to the ECHA seeking a restriction on PFAS chemicals. The proposal claimed that the manufacture, placement on the market and use of PFAS are not adequately controlled and need to be addressed through the European REACH regulations. The REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation governs which chemicals can be manufactured and used within the EU.

PFAS substances – perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls – are known to be highly persistent in the environment, contaminating groundwater, surface water and soil, and causing serious health effects such as cancer and liver damage. 

The restriction proposals include a new chemical definition of PFAS that could lead to a ban on practically all HFC and HFO refrigerants, as well as the fluoropolymers used in a number of critical refrigeration components.

Concern

The RAC and SEAC meetings carried out in March and June expressed concern over the persistence of PFAS in the environment, their effect on the environment and human health. The risk assessment committee also considered that the exclusion of certain PFAS from the scope of the restriction based on their potential degradation in the environment was not sufficiently justified.

The conclusions agreed at RAC and SEAC meetings are provisional until the committees finalise the evaluation of the entire restriction proposal (including all sectors of use) and adopt their opinions. These opinions will then be communicated to the public.

Related stories:

PFAS consultation receives over 5,600 comments – 26 September 2023
FINLAND: The European proposals to restrict the use of PFAS chemicals have received more than 5,600 comments from more than 4,400 organisations, companies and individuals. Read more…

PFAS ban affects most refrigerant blends – 12 February 2023
EUROPE: The banning of just five refrigerants under the new PFAS regulation proposals would lead to the banning of virtually all the current lower GWP HFC/HFO alternative refrigerant blends. Read more…

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